It was a milestone win for the Astoria volleyball program Thursday night at the Brick House. And the Lady Fishermen did it in thrilling, historic fashion.
In a marathon night of volleyball, Astoria played the part of the “Super Rally Kings” in a five-game win over Banks, 24-26, 19-25, 27-25, 25-12, 15-12.
“It was so fun to watch. And to coach. I don’t think I’ll have a voice tomorrow,” said Astoria coach Jessie Todd, following her biggest victory since coming to Astoria last year.
Banks had won the first two games, and held leads of 24-23 and 25-24 in Game 3. But the Fishermen fought off both match points and took the third game, 27-25.
After that, there was no stopping Astoria, as the Lady Fish held leads of 8-1 and 17-6 in cruising to the Game 4 win.
And even trailing 9-5 in the fifth set, the Fishermen seemed to have things in control.
When Astoria digs started going back over the net for points, the Fishermen Fanatics knew it was their night.
“Again, (the crowd) played a big part,” Todd said. “They were loud, and I think they gained some confidence in us.
“My girls were not going to give up in that third game,” she added. “And once we won it, it definitely gave us a lot of confidence. From then on, we were not going to let up.”
Stamina “was a huge part of it,” Todd said. “I like our stamina. We’re able to wear teams down, and that definitely happened tonight. (The Braves) are a great team, they’ve got some great hitters, and they battled, too.”
Granted, the Braves are struggling this year, having slipped to 1-7 overall, 0-4 in league. But any Astoria victory over Banks can be considered a milestone victory.
The Lady Fishermen had not beaten Banks since Nov. 9, 2012 — when Angee Hunt’s team (which had lost to the Braves twice during the regular season) knocked off Banks in a semifinal state tournament match in Eugene on the way to a second-place finish at state.
Since then, the Braves had scored 10 straight wins over Astoria, eight by three-game sweeps.
So maybe it was no surprise that Banks won the first two games of Thursday’s match, with an impressive display of hitting, setting, serving, blocking and digging.
The Braves held an 18-14 lead in Game 3, and were likely thinking of a quick return to Banks, after Astoria had won the junior varsity match, also in five games.
But Astoria’s varsity rallied and took a 23-22 lead. Banks came right back and led 24-23, and then 25-24.
Astoria’s hard hitter, junior Kes Sandstrom, delivered a pair of kills through the Banks block, then scored the final point off a set from Madi Landwehr to win the game.
And the entire match seemed to swing from there, as the Fishermen were never threatened in Game 4.
Sandstrom led Astoria with 15 kills, followed by Chelsea Christensen with 12. Landwehr added nine kills and Julia Norris finished with seven kills.
But it was ultimately their “never give in, never give up” defense that brought Astoria back into the match.
By the end of Game 5, the blocks and digs were all going Astoria’s way.
“Madi made a great save that went back over the net for a point,” Todd said. “And we’ve worked a lot on that, being a good defensive team. I was real happy with some of the blocks that we put up, since we work a lot on tooling off the blocks,” with blocks resulting in points.
“My setters also moved the ball real well. It was just a fantastic night,” she said. “We had a couple players off the bench who came in and made a huge difference. It was so fantastic. None of my seniors had ever beat Banks … I think we found some confidence tonight.”
The Lady Fish had three players with 30-plus digs — Christensen led with 39, followed by Corrin Howard with 35 and Hailey O’Brien with 30.
Darian Hageman also had six blocks to lead Astoria, while Hageman, Howard and O’Brien combined for eight service aces.
In other Cowapa League action Thursday, Tillamook swept the Gulls at Seaside, 25-12, 25-16, 25-21; and Valley Catholic defeated Scappoose in three games, 25-14, 25-10, 25-19.
Junior Varsity: Astoria defeated Banks, 17-25, 25-19, 25-21, 27-29, 15-10.